LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow is preparing as much to be ready for the first 2019 MotoGP pre-season test at Sepang International Circuit next week.
The last time Crutchlow rode a MotoGP bike was at the end of October at Phillip Island in Australia when he had a heavy fall in Turn 1 during the FP2 session, which not only forced him out of that weekend but for the rest of the 2018 season.
The British rider has undergone multiple surgeries and is rehabilitating in his home in San Diego in America but hasn’t ridden a bike – apart from riding bicycle – for three months now as he races against time to be ready for the Sepang test on February 6-8.
Crutchlow is not the only Honda rider to be injured with new signing Jorge Lorenzo already out of the first test while reigning champion Marc Marquez is also recovering from the shoulder surgery. Only Crutchlow’s teammate Takaaki Nakagami is fully fit.
In an interview to Motorcycle News magazine, Crutchlow has discussed in full length about how bad the injury was and the procedure the doctors had to follow to fix him up which was a delicate process where a lot could have gone wrong.
“I knew at the start it was a bad injury, and my surgeon told me afterwards how close they were to fusing it because of how bad the fracture was,” said Crutchlow. “It’s called a Pilon fracture and it’s basically the worst you can have as it’s caused by rotational forces.
“They had to reconstruct the talus, and that’s what they were most worried about. That part has gone really well though. I’ve got two plates on my tibia, one on the inside and one on the centre.
“But they didn’t plate my fibula and that’s what seems to be causing the pain I’m suffering from now. But there just wasn’t the room to plate it. As a bike racer, you think you’re going to come back in two weeks and be able to ride again.
“But it’s now been nine weeks and I can only just walk, and even when I do I’m still in pain. If you read up on Pilon fractures, it’s 12 months before some can even walk again or they need more operations or have more pain.
“It’s healed miraculously when you consider that now I’m able to do 25-hour weeks on my bicycle without any pain at all. It’s been a hard three months [though]. I’ve had big injuries before but nothing on this scale.
“There have been times when I honestly thought I’d never be able to ride again. But I always had the desire to carry on training, to carry on going to physio. I had the mental state to stay competitive and want to race in MotoGP again.
“Don’t get me wrong; there were times I thought the ankle was never going to get better. They came in the middle of the recovery, not at the end. I was still riding my bicycle, but I couldn’t walk and I was in a lot of pain. I’ve lost a lot of movement.”
Considering all what has happened with the 33-year-old, the first aim is to get back on his Honda and get the feel of the bike again rather than chase lap times. But he doesn’t want to stay to just that as the goal certainly is to win races again.
“I’m under no illusions or pressure because I have no goal for the start of the season,” he said. “That’s what I’ve discussed with Honda and with the team. So my goal at the test is to go, get on my bike and just enjoy riding again.
“I’m not going into it thinking I need to be in the top five at the first test. I need to go there and learn to ride and understand the bike and to give them information, and if that means I’m 15th then I’ll be 15th.
“But I don’t intend to be 15th all year, I intend to go back and win races.” The British racer will be one of the three riders abode the 2019 Honda machine with Nakagami to ride the 2018 bike. No replacement has been announced for Lorenzo thus far.